Drinking Deeply

Friday, March 31, 2006 at 12:40 AM

Some questions for thought

Prompted by some conversations with some friends.

1) What is so essential about the doctrine of the Trinity?

2) If it is so essential, why isn't it included in our evangelistic presentations in Scripture? I'm not talking about the 4 spiritual laws (which have its own problems), but I'm talking about Acts 2, Acts 17 and the like. An alternative answer would be to demonstrate the doctrine of the Trinity apparent within Acts 2 or Acts 17 (giving us evidence that we should be able to find it within the other evangelistic presentations)

3) What are some other doctrines that are "essential"? And what does it mean to be "essential" anyways?

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Blogger ts said...

is understanding the trinity doctrine necessary for salvation? if not, then i don't think it absolutely must be included in evangelistic messages.

about essential doctrines ... i personally believe even catholics can have true saving faith because they acknowledge Jesus is God come in the flesh, died for our sin, rose again and will return to judge. if you think about what delineates christians from mormons or jehovah's witnesses, for example, i think it should be clear what is essential. the bible also makes our belief about Jesus a litmus test for orthodoxy.

another way is to use one of the early creeds as a baseline.  


Blogger mxu said...

I'm not sure understanding any doctrine is necessary for salvation (otherwise we'd be back at salvation by works again).


One cannot reject certain prepositional statements and still be saved. For example: Jesus' atoning death paid the full price for sin. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Jesus rose from the dead.

The key word for me is "reject."

The trinity is usually lumped into the essential doctrines. What is so essential about it?

And as I recall, early creeds affirm the trinity. In fact, it was out of the debate over the trinity that the Nicene creed was formed.

The question is why is this so important?  


Blogger Jessica said...

i wrote this long response to your post, and then decided that it would be best summarized in a question.

So you wrote: "One cannot reject certain prepositional statements and still be saved. For example: Jesus' atoning death paid the full price for sin. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Jesus rose from the dead."

my question is, how can you divorce those three statements from the doctrine of the Trinity? in my mind they are intimately related, and you cannot say that one is essential and the other is not.
there is no way that a person, having thought things through, accept the fact that Jesus is fully God and fully man and then reject the doctrine of the Trinity. unless you're deluding yourself, it's just not possible.  


Anonymous theocentric522 said...

I agree with Jessica.

Trinity is important because NT church has a fuller revelation of the gospel of our triune God. It declares Jesus Christ to be God (YHWH). He was not just a "good teacher." This is essential to Christian soteriology and foundational to Pauline epistles. Not only soteriology, but we can add Eschatology, Ecclesiology, and them some.

Christians cannot hold to monotheism (that there is only one God, and no other) and at the same time deny that Christ is God. Similar arguement can be made for the Holy Spirit since Jesus refer to Him as another Helper.

You refered to denying certain biblical truths as non-saving (or even adding works like circumcision to the gospel):

"Jesus' atoning death paid the full price for sin. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Jesus rose from the dead."

But we can ask why was Jesus' atoning death sufficient for God's infinite wrath? Or how can Jesus be fully God yet say of the Father, "You are the only true God"? How can scripture teach that Father raised Jesus from the dead, yet also teach that Spirit raised Christ...then we have Christ testifying of Himself, "destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days"?

If you deny the Trinity, you deny the clear teachings of Scripture. We might not grasp everything about the Trinity, but the regenerate heart loves the word of God. Let's also add that regenerate heart loves the Trinity.

I think someone said, "God is the gospel." =) What kind of God is He? We declare Trinity.

more can be said. Maybe later.  


Blogger jefe said...

theocentric writes:

"If you deny the Trinity, you deny the clear teachings of Scripture. ...the regenerate heart loves the word of God."

let's say we grant both of those points (i'm not so sure, but let's say). does it really follow that trinitarianism is essential to being "saved"?

i don't think that's a valid argument. for instance, the scriptures say that Jehu the son of Jehosaphat conspired against Joram (2 Kings 9.14). the bible's much more explicit on this than any of the claims about the trinity. but i don't think anybody would say this proposition is essential to christian belief. if an ignorant person like me got in an argument with you, saying, "Jehu never conspired against Joram", would you really think that put my savedness into question?

"What kind of God is He? We declare Trinity."

remember, the issue under discussion is not "is trinitarianism true about God?" lots of things are true about god that certainly aren't "essential doctrine". for instance, does god immanently occupy space, or is he "outside of space" (i.e. non-spatial)? you'd have a hard time arguing that having the wrong belief on that count is damnable.

any argument (and there are many) to the effect that some kind of trinitarianism is the most consistent and reasonable position kind of misses this point--unless we say that salvation hinges on our rational virtues. i'm with mickey in saying that runs deeply against the good news of grace.

returning to mickey's post, and taking "essential doctrine" to mean the things that you gotta believe--"what must we believe to be saved?" (not that we're saved by virtue of having the right beliefs, i'd say, but rather, the way we're saved is through god's giving us the right faith.):

now, i could be off base here, but i only know of a couple of propositional statements that scriptural texts say are essential in that way.

1. (a) god exists and (b) he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11.6)

2. god raised jesus from the dead (Romans 10.9)

(you might also want to add "jesus is lord" to that, from the last passage--but i think (and please feel free to correct me) that that's not really a propositional belief: it's more like a statement of allegiance--as the passage goes on, it's a matter of trusting jesus. and that's important--because while our faith does have propositional content, that content is not the core of our faith.)

now that's a darn short list. there may be things i missed--but i really don't think we should be striving to make it longer. remember jesus' words (Luke 11.46): "woe to you who load people down with burdens".  


Drop a thought